You can’t even call these bands One Hit Wonders; they may have had one great song but for whatever reason they never broke through.
First up is one of my favorites, The Autographs with While I’m Still Young. The song was produced by legendary Tommy Boyce (one of the men behind the Monkees) and it’s a terrific combination of power pop with a glam influence. The live performance here is all youthful exuberance and fun, without any pretensions to social commentary or anything of that crap. As soon as they count down into the song the kids immediately start bouncing around in unison, there’s no way you could stand still for this one. The Autographs never went anywhere but for a brief moment they best band these kids ever heard.
The Riptides were an Australian band that formed in the late 70’s at the University of Queensland. They achieved a bit of popularity in Australia but in those days it was almost impossible for acts from Down Under to break out unless they moved to the UK or US. Not only is this a great song but I love the old school Coke bottle glasses on the singer and the complete lack of interest in looking cool or trendy. The video looks like a modern day hipster recreation of a 1970’s music video but I assure you, it’s the real thing.
If you like The Riptides check out their other rocking single Magic Castle.
Ok, let’s see: high energy, oddball lyrics, a weird front man and a New Wave sound and look. Yep, this one is from IRS Records, the home to all kinds of great and strange music in the late 70’s and early 80’s. This is The Humans, with I Live In The City.
The unusual thing about this band is they weren’t youngsters, two of the guys were in the legendary early 60’s surf band Eddie And The Showmen. Check them out ripping it up on Squad Car.
Finally we have a real relic of it’s time, Video Games by the band Fingers (not The Fingers, just Fingers). Part of the early 80’s video game craze, it never caught on like Pac Man Fever, despite being a much better song. I think maybe the imitation Rick Springfield front man and excessive eyeliner were too cheesy even for 1982.
There’s a nice little video retrospective on Fingers here.
One thing that’s clear from watching these videos: success in the music business (or any area of show business really) is dependent on a lot of external factors. Any of these songs could have either been a hit or a springboard that led to a major label contract, big time producers and a big promotional push. For whatever reason it never happened for these bands. Fortunately we live in an era when their videos are available online and they can potentially be seen by more people than they ever were in their prime.